Local news translated, August 18

Daily Host Nation Stories – August 18, 2020

Travel and parties create the greatest risk

According to health officials, travel returnees and those attending parties and celebrations are the reason for the increasing number of corona infections.

The proportion of infections brought in from abroad is already higher in Baden-Württemberg than the national average, namely 38 per cent (Germany: 31 per cent). Since the reopening of the borders in June, most infections came in from Serbia, Kosovo and Croatia. These people have infected more people here – which is precisely why it is so important to identify the infection on entry, if possible.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has also appealed to German citizens to pay more attention to the corona danger at events. “A particularly large number of younger people are infected at the moment,” he said. This indicates that it also has something to do with parties. At the moment, the situation is under control, but people must remain vigilant. The authorities can deal with the current scale of the problem. “What would be worrying is if it continues to rise,” said Spahn.

Spahn spoke on the subject of areas, “when we become sociable,” are where the virus spreads particularly fast. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach called for limiting private parties to 50 participants. “The second wave of infection is already reality in Germany”. The Minister of Health now wants to discuss with the federal states which parties and events can still take place. It could be that parties could soon only take place “within a close circle of family and friends”.

This rise in infections from travel and parties comes at the precise moment when the focus is on reopening schools and businesses. The priority needs to be that day-care centers and schools can start regular operations in September, as well as business and trade in the fall. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, August 18)

Current travel conditions with Germany’s neighboring countries

Austria

At the moment there are no restrictions to enter Austria from Germany – as long as you have not spent the ten days before in one of the approximately 30 designated corona risk areas. In Austria these currently include the entire Spanish mainland, Croatia, the countries of the Western Balkans, but also Romania, Bulgaria, Sweden, the USA and Russia. Travelers from these areas must carry a negative PCR test with them or make up for it in quarantine. As a result of the restrictions, random checks are carried out at the borders with Slovenia and Hungary, and since Thursday also with Italy. All in all, the corona situation in Austria is still considered stable despite an increase in the number of cases. Masks are mandatory in supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices and all public transport. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, August 18)

France

Fear of a second corona wave is growing in France. Recently, the national health authority announced that more than 3,000 new cases are counted every day. Paris and the department Bouches-du-Rhône have been classified as “red zones” again. In Paris, for example, a mask must be worn throughout the city center – even outdoors. In many other French cities this regulation already applies to pedestrian zones. In public transport and shops, the mask has been mandatory throughout France for several weeks now.  The health authorities are concerned about the wave of people returning from their holidays. Tourists from Germany do not need any special documents to enter the country. A quarantine is also not necessary. Tickets for many sights are limited and usually have to be reserved or bought online in advance.

Italy

Most holidaymakers from the EU or the Schengen area are allowed to enter Italy without restrictions since June. Quarantine obligations are imposed for arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania, it also applies to visitors from non-EU countries. However, anyone entering from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain must take a swab. Within Italy you are allowed to move around unhindered. The number of infections increased recently, however, was still lower than in Germany. In shops, trains or other indoor rooms, masks are mandatory. Masks must be worn from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in squares and in front of restaurants and bars, where there are often many people. All discos – also outdoors – are closed. Gatherings of people standing too close and drinking outside is prohibited. On beaches, distance rules must be observed.. In bars and restaurants many hosts have moved their tables almost completely outside. Sometimes there is an additional plexiglass partition to the next table. Reservations in advance are desired, but not a must.

Spain

Holidaymakers from the EU and the Schengen states may continue to enter Spain without restriction. However, due to a renewed increase in corona numbers, Germany has declared the country a risk area with the exception of the Canary Islands and issued a travel warning for the popular holiday island of Mallorca. Tour operators thereupon cancelled package tours and offered holidaymakers an early return flight. For some weeks now, returnees from risk areas have generally had to report to the health authorities. There is also an obligation to take a test when returning home. Countries such as Great Britain or Norway even ordered compulsory quarantine for returnees from the most important European holiday country. Austria has also issued a travel warning for the Spanish mainland.  If you still want to go to Spain, you should note that you should fill out an online form before traveling and then receive a QR code which you must show when entering Spain by plane. In the country itself, strict corona rules apply, such as mandatory masks even outdoors, distance rules and restrictions on the number of guests in restaurants. There is also a ban on smoking outside if the safe distance to strangers cannot be maintained. Nightlife is practically non-existent at clubs and discos. Some smaller areas in Castilla y León and Murcia are closed due to local outbreaks. However, the pandemic is still under control throughout the country, assures the central government in Madrid.

Non-Corona related news:

Southern Black Forest Nature Park popular with locals

The slopes of the Black Forest near Oberried show themselves in all their glory from a ridge of the “Schauinsland”. According to the Black Forest Tourist Association in Freiburg, the Southern Black Forest Nature Park is typically one of the most visited recreational areas in Germany. Although numbers are down since the pandemic, local guests and residents are visiting the park in high numbers and according to Tourism Minister Guido Wolf (CDU), they are closing part of the gap created by Corona. Founded in 1999, the nature park stretches from Lörrach in the southeast to behind Villingen-Schwenningen in the northwest and covers around 394,000 hectares of the southern Black Forest. This makes it the largest nature park in Germany. One of the park’s visitor centers is located on the 1493-meter-high Feldberg. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, August 18)